It's back to the books for Nebraska's largest school district, and back to the routes for buses. After a huge mess last fall, officials at Omaha Public Schools say the first day seems to have been much better.
In 2016, thousands of students were picked up hours late or didn't even have a ride to or from school because of a shortage of bus drivers. More than 50% of Omaha schools were impacted for up to months.
The district implemented a new plan which gave routes to Student Transportation of America two months early, put more students on buses which reduced the number of buses by 100, changed the zones for schools, and allowed elementary students at least 1 mile from school to get transportation.
So far, OPS says it is going much smoother than last year.
"Fabulous without a hitch; the buses came in, kids got off,” said Monroe Middle School Principal Boris Moore. "We hadn't had any of that in previous years. I don't know if people remember that after last year but that's true. So no apprehension really about that. That was kind of an anomaly."
OPS says they have been monitoring the buses in real time with GPS tracking, and there are more drivers hired than transportation routes. They say all buses arrived on time.
Cama Charlet says her daughter, who's now in fourth grade at Wilson Elementary, had problems last year even being left on a bus when they missed her stop. Charlet says this year has started differently since she's been impressed with the communication, and the transportation has been prompt.
"Great, no problems so far she's been dropped off on time, the bus driver's actually been communicating with me really well as well,” Charlet explained.
OPS says the call center at North End Teleservices, one of 3 places answering phones, received about 500 calls by 1:30pm on Thursday. The most common topics were where is my bus, how long should students wait, and I didn't receive an eligibility letter for my school.